Do Travelers Need Flu Shots?

International travelers, who are in the know, are aware of the need to see a travel doctor to discuss which travel vaccinations they need. Another reason to see a travel doctor is to find out which travel shots you don’t need. Often, the CDC and other websites suggest that you may need several travel vaccinations. However, after a discussion with a physician you may discover that one of their recommended vaccines is not right for you. Remember, don’t rely upon the internet for your medical advice. Even WebMD is not a real M.D.

You may need travel vaccinations for hepatitis, yellow fever, typhoid and a few other exotic illnesses. However, don’t neglect to protect yourself against common illnesses. Are you up to date on all of your routine vaccines such as tetanus or MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)? It might be time for a booster.

In addition, travelers may need to receive the routine influenza vaccine, or flu shot. Influenza breaks out in different seasons in other parts of the globe, so travelers may not realize that they are at risk. The flu shot really works and it may be getting better. The New York Times has reported that scientists may be able to produce flu vaccines much faster than the current method.

 Why is this important?

  • Faster production could be used for other disease outbreaks, such as the swine flu pandemic of 2009.
  • Less risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Allows flu experts to wait longer before deciding which flu strains to include in the winter vaccine. Currently, strains of the flu vaccine are made in February, which may not be the strains that ultimately appear.

So, while you are getting protected against exotic diseases, remember, common illnesses, such as the flu, can also strike you abroad. Make sure that you strike back before departure.

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